Customizing Microsoft Windows for Accessibility

Visual Studio .NET 2003

There are many ways you can customize Microsoft Windows to make your computer more accessible.

  • Windows includes accessibility features that are useful for individuals who have difficulty typing or using a mouse, have moderately impaired vision, or who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. You can install these features during the setup process, or you can add them later from your Windows installation disks. Look up "accessibility" in the Windows Help index for information about installing and using these features.
  • You can add many of the features that make current versions of Windows more accessible to earlier versions of Windows and to MS-DOS via Access Packs. You can download these files by modem, or you can order them on disks from Microsoft.
  • You can use Control Panel and other built-in features to adjust the appearance and behavior of Windows to suit varying vision and motor abilities. These include adjusting colors and sizes, sound volume, and the behavior of the mouse and keyboard.
  • If you have difficulty using the standard QWERTY keyboard layout, Dvorak keyboard layouts make the most frequently typed characters on a keyboard more accessible. You can choose from three Dvorak layouts: two-handed, left-handed only, and right-handed only. You do not have to purchase any special equipment to use these features.

The specific features available, and whether they are built in or must be obtained separately, depend on which operating system you are using.

To Download the Access Packs, Application Notes, and Alternative Keyboard Layouts by Modem

If you have a modem, you can download these files from the following network services:

  • Microsoft Web site. On the Microsoft home page (, point to All Products at the top of the page. When the menu appears, click Microsoft Accessibility. Information and downloadable resources are available from this page.
  • Microsoft FTP server,, in /Softlib/MSLFiles.
  • MSN, the Microsoft Network online service.
  • CompuServe. Type GO MSL.
  • Various user-group bulletin boards.

To Order the Access Packs, Application Notes, and Alternative Keyboard Layouts on Disks by Phone

If you do not have a modem, you can order the Access Packs, Application Notes, and Alternative Layouts on disks within the United States by calling Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400 (voice) or (800) 892-5234 (TTY).

In Canada, you can call (905) 568-3503 or (905) 568-9641 (text telephone).

See Also

Accessibility for People with Disabilities | Customizing Visual FoxPro for Accessibility | Utilities and Resources for Enhancing Accessibility | Microsoft Documentation in Alternative Formats